Really, I was utterly shocked when I read this article from Reuters. Scientists have proven that formaldehyde is bad for you. Not just kinda icky, but really bad for you. I am in awe and horror.
How was the sarcasm? Did I do a good job? Did I fool you? ... No? Yeah, I wouldn't have believed me either. Don't feel bad. Get ready, kids, here comes the rant!
Ok, I'm going to make an assumption here that a large majority of my readers are in the USA and have (or will have) taken a high school biology class. And in something like 95% of those biology classes around the country, you are required to do a dissection. It may be of worms, fetal pigs, frogs, or even fluffy the cat. In most of those cases, the critter to be chopped up is preserved in ... (wait for it!) ... FORMALDEHYDE!
Now, maybe it's just me and my redneck-hillbilly ideas, but if they use it to PRESERVE DEAD THINGS, it might not be such a good thing to consume. We drink alcohol. Too much alcohol is bad for you. We eat stuff with salt in/on it. Too much salt is bad for you. We consume foods with tannic acid in it. You know what I'm going to say next, so I'll spare you the obvious statement. Now, small amounts of alcohol, salt, or tannic acid won't kill you. That's why we can drink wine, eat our salt coated french fries, or have that cup of tea and NOT die.
When you look at compounds like formaldehyde, one glaring thing REALLY stands out. It is a POISON. Every container you find of the substance tells you NOT to consume it. Don't drink, eat, or breathe the fume. It is BAD for you. Who in the nine hells do you expect really wants to have some formaldehyde on the side of their meal? Last I checked, it wasn't the new monosodium glutamate (aka MSG) that you sprinkled on everything to make it more flavorful by tricking your taste buds and subsequently becoming addicted to it.
Oh... wait... I wasn't supposed to mention that bit about MSG. Oops. ... *Shifty Eyes* We'll just keep that little secret between us, ok? *Winks*
Back to the rant... Anybody who has been in high school biology most likely remembers the strict admonishments of their teachers not to smell, taste, or otherwise consume their experiment. Just a ... well, a little suspicion here... If a substance is OBVIOUSLY poisonous, it's probably safe to assume it's going to have a laundry list of other REALLY bad effects on the body. If you're lucky, cancer is the least of them.
It wasn't just the Visigoths who did in the Romans. It was the lead pipes too. Trace amounts of lead in the water resulted in lead poisoning. Lead poisoning is BAD. It screws up your brain. So... perhaps we're dealing with some of the modern version of lead pipes for Rome. Just a theory, mind you. Honestly, are we supposed to be shocked and hail this "discovery" as some earth shattering news? It's fucking formaldehyde, people.
Pardon me, I'm going to go look for my nearest source of lead and drink up. I obviously am functioning at too high of a brain power for my country because I didn't need this discovery to tell me that a poison is bad for me.